21 Mar 2017

Should owners change locks

Should landlords change the Locks for Every New Tenant?  Here’s the answer .....

The responsibilities that go into becoming a landlord are extensive, to say the lease.  Aside from collecting rent, landlords are tasked with property maintenance and general upkeep.   Among these responsibilities is the issue of whether or not landlords should change their locks every time that they get a new tenant.

Some people will be quick to say “yes” and some will be quick to say that doing so will incur a higher price.  When it comes to rentals, temporary ownership to a particular room or space changes hands quite often.  This process makes it hard to have absolute key control.  There is no clear-cut answer to the question posed, but there are options that landlords can take to ensure that tenants remain secure, and that their costs stay down. 

Why should locks be changed?  What’s the main reason why people advocate landlords to change the locks after someone new moves in?  They are worried about the integrity of their home security.  If you look at it from the perspective of a new tenant you can see why this is worrisome.  Many of them want to make sure that their homes are as secure as possible.  In all fairness, tenants that are vacating the premises are required to hand over their keys to the landlord but this does not mean that they do not have copies of a key.

According to crime statistics, 73.2% of all burglary offenses committed were on residential properties, so it is easy to understand why some tenants might be wary of their locks not being changed. 

Why shouldn’t locks be changed?  In most cases, landlords are against constantly changing the locks to rentals because of the cost.  If the landlord carried out the task themselves, it would undoubtedly keep the cost of the replacement down.  Obviously if it was free, they would definitely do it.  Let’s take a look at what the best possible solution is and what landlords should do.

According to most landlord/tenant laws which vary from state to state, the landlord is required to provide functioning deadbolt locks on exterior doors.  Unless the lock is damaged or compromised, they are not necessarily obligated to replace the lock.  And because the tenant doesn’t own the property they cannot make any changes with the landlords approval.  If the lock is damaged or compromised, the landlord is not obligated to replace the entire lock but instead can rekey the lock. 

Rekeying a lock will lessen the fears new renters have of their homes being compromised and it can be done at a fraction of the cost.  Rekeying negates the change of anyone breaking into the apartment with an old key.  In terms of risk management, rekeying is a quick, cost effective measure.  Rekeying only replaces a few small internal mechanisms.  For most locks, these mechanisms are known as pins and pins come in various lengths.  Replacing the pins with different sizes or in a different order means the old key will no longer work.

Conclusion:   Rental Trends ensures that at the start of every tenancy a Key Annexure is drawn up.  And I mean "literally" drawn up!. We draw each key on an Annexure and have the tenant sign off both on the drawn key type and the number of keys being supplied.  When the tenant returns the keys we marry up each individual key to each drawing.  Should a key not be returned,  then we advise the tenant that they are responsible for changing the barrel in the lock.  

Other agencies only photocopy a bunch of keys all muddled up on a ring.  This results in the key profile not being able to be determined.  When a key is lost, they tell the tenant that they will need to charge them for the cutting of a new key.  Really, what does this achieve?  Lost keys out in the wide wonder and your new tenant feeling anxious about their security!

Landlords have a great deal of responsibility when it comes to their tenants.  The mark of a good landlord can be seen in those who pay close attention to the state of their rental units.  If a lock is damaged when an old tenant is moving out, then a landlord should replace it for their new tenants.  It is at the landlords discretion to rekey locks after each tenancy but if they are assured that their agent is acting diligently with keys being provided to tenants then they can rest assured that their property is safe.



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